There was this poor man, and he seemed sad and lonely. He saw me and lit up, and he started asking me questions. Then he asked me if I would buy a treat for him, and (awkward situation right here) I was about to say no when all of the sudden the Holy Spirit moved me to buy him a treat.
Holy Matrimony is a sacred, solemn, divine encounter that unfolds when heaven comes down to touch earth. The good news is, it’s not a one time only deal. God’s grace is abundant and available 24/7.
What we have observed is that many of [the veterans] do not speak Spanish and can feel very isolated here. We have seen some of them fall into drugs and alcohol abuse among other things, and we have felt called to minister to them in their needs.
It is not only in Baños—or any foreign city—that God calls people to holy encounters. There are amigos in the Holy Spirit awaiting us wherever we are. As we approach the great celebration of Pentecost, let us ask the Holy Spirit if there is someone one our path He might be calling us to befriend this week. Who might be needing a word of encouragement and prayers, or just someone to remind them that they are seen?
My nineteen-year-old son called me from his mission in Peru a couple of weeks ago. He was sick in bed and groaning occasionally with discomfort as he talked cheerfully about his work. I couldn’t reach him through the mail, couldn’t reasonably fly to see him. I wanted to teleport there and cook him soup, bring him to the doctor, hold him and pray over him. I wanted so badly to comfort him.
The hardest part was that almost no one even asked our names or interacted with us as people. Here we were, living in a new country, caring for our young children, struggling with the language, and also homesick for everything and everyone that we left behind.
Bishop Herrera said that the witness of a faith-filled family is the greatest gift missionaries can offer. What a relief and what a joy to hear that coming from the bishop. We are fulfilling our mission here simply by our yes to the Lord and our presence here at our mission post.
All my thoughts culminated in me screaming at God, “Why do you let this happen? Especially to those who love you! Do you even exist? If you do, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING!!” Then I heard it. The whisper of the Lord. And he said, “I did do something…I sent YOU!” Even as I write those words, my heart stirs in a way that it never did before, in all my years of missions. I prayed for God to comfort these people, to help them move forward after tragedy, to have food to eat, that they will not feel alone, that their needs can be met.
Along with the blessings, there have been some challenges…It is hard knowing that most of my friends and classmates are not Catholics, or even Christians for that matter. It is also discouraging because there are so many temples! 15,000! But, like I said earlier, trust in the Lord!
At Easter we are reminded that resurrection is possible everyday. Everyday we fail. I argue with my wife or am yelling at my children. And I’m like, “Lord, why do I constantly fail under these patterns of sin?” He’s there to encourage us and pick us up, to give us that second, third, fourth, fifth, or five-hundredth chance that we need.
If we aren’t capable of seeing the Eucharist as this great gift of God and his desire to love us and be near to us, then none of these teachings will make any sense.
Only five months after our family’s arrival at our new post, we found ourselves in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, locked away from those we were sent to serve. Jesus, being who He is, still led us to the poorest of the poor. He opened so many closed doors—both literally and figuratively—for new ministries to flourish, despite the repercussions of the virus.
I said a quick prayer for the man on the corner. Not ten seconds later I was plagued by a litany of doubts. Why did I give him so much? What if he uses it for alcohol or drugs? I should have had a snack in the car to give him. I could have at least asked his name instead of only throwing him money.
His words cut me to the heart. The love of God is a sturdy shelter. His love never fails. His love transforms. His love heals. He fills me with peace.
When I sat down next to one of the men somebody sneered, “Don’t give him any money. He’ll just use it for drugs!” My heart sank. All these people were just in church professing their love for Jesus, who of course loves the poor. All these people call themselves Christians, and claim to follow Christ…and yet….
I realized that for my whole life I’ve been fasting to seek my own pleasure. To show myself my own willpower, or that I am better at Lent than other people.
Here, more than a single soul has been reached for less than every possible suffering! For the low, low price of $48,583.53 and a dozen years of school and work and sacrifice, the KINGDOM OF GOD IS IN PROGRESS. Through just ONE part of the job the Lord gave me—sometimes done poorly, even complaining-ly, often winging it, and very often realizing how the Lord played a long game in preparing me for the position—I contributed to the building of the Kingdom of God. I participated in the Great Commission.
I thank God for moving in the hearts of our team members who rejected the lie that during this time of quarantine they can’t do anything to help others. I thank God for inspiring us to coordinate the Christmas Rosary Giveaway event and also for our amazing missionary friends who were willing to help make this day such a success.